So, you’ve started dating someone and thinking this just might be “the one.” They are attentive, affectionate, and want to spend all of their free time with you. And when you are apart, they are sending texts with endearing words, or are on the phone talking to you. All of this attention and sweetness has you seeing this as a good match. Is true love on the horizon?
Not so fast. This love bombing may be coming on too fast. It’s one thing for someone to show lots of interest; it’s quite another for them to be coming on so strongly in the beginning, that it almost seems too good to be true.
Well, it just might be. You could be the victim of future faking.
“Future faking is a bonding technique used in romantic relationships where a detailed version of future is outlined in order to expedite connection.”
The simplest definition of future faking is dating behavior filled with future promises of all that this person is going to do for and with you.
It comes on very early in a relationship. Such love bombing can even occur in the course of your use of dating apps and actually begin there before you ever have a physical date. But once you do have the first or second physical date, the future faking begins.
“Future faking is actually a form of manipulation, and it’s keeping you hooked in by making the kinds of future promises you want to hear.”
These over-the-top promises include such things as:
There is no intention on the part of the future faker to follow through on any of these false promises. But you fall hard, and that is exactly their goal.
“It’s generally something that narcissists do…it’s their way of getting attention and admiration from you.”
Dr. Greg Kushnick, a New York-based psychologist
Usually, people who are future fakers are narcissists. If you don’t know anything about narcissism, here are some of its major characteristics:
In dating relationships, a narcissistic partner is impulsive and will make lots of empty promises. They know they cannot fulfill them, and that’s why their relationships are usually short-lived. Their “victims” have been given false hope for an amazing future, only to be left with broken promises and some heartache.
If they do end up in longer-term relationships, narcissists engage in continued future faking as a manipulative tactic. The future promising continues, and the “so-in-love” partner desperately wants to believe them this time. But “this time” will never happen. And narcissistic future faking will continue until a partner finally gets tired of it and calls them out. At that point, they will quickly leave the relationship because their egos cannot be fed anymore.
Narcissists need the undivided love and attention of their partners. They see the other’s family and close friends as competition. And so, they use future faking to isolate their new partner, to have them all to themselves, and to be the object of their full admiration. It’s all about control.
Every narcissist has a personality disorder. How it plays out can follow one of two behavior patterns.
“In most situations, it’s not intentional…Many narcissists are impulsive and will promise someone the world…they actually believe what they’re saying to you to be true during the initial courting period. Until they don’t.”
It’s rare for narcissist to identify such a disorder in oneself. However, the result is sad – when something doesn’t work, your partner will put you on the back burner in search of a new “victim.” As a shunned partner, you’ll be suddenly cut off and, of course, deeply hurt.
This is premeditated future faking. This type of narcissist knows exactly what they are doing. They “love bomb” a person, make those future promises, and bask in the glory of being the center of attention of an adoring partner. But they have no intention of this lasting or of having any future with a partner. They are constantly on the lookout for their next victim and will drop someone and move on very quickly.
The dumped victim never saw it coming and can’t imagine what could have gone wrong. It is painful to fall so completely for someone, only to have the rug pulled out from under them. The narcissist couldn’t care less, because they cannot feel empathy or compassion for someone else. It’s all about them and what they want at the moment.
And what they want is admiration and adoration. That ego must be fed no matter what the cost to others.
Sometimes a narcissist does stick around a bit longer and even enters into a long-term relationship with a partner. Of course, the future faking does continue, but the “victim” will now experience some changes in behavior that are not pleasant. These usually happen when the non-narcissist partner begins to realize some pain in the relationship and speaks about it.
For example, they may not be getting the concern and empathy they should from their narcissistic partner. Or they refuse to give up close relationships with family and friends. The narcissist will become cold and distant in response. Unfulfilled promises will be dismissed as unimportant, and the narcissist will become critical and even hostile when their partner begins to pull away or question their behavior. Occasionally, a narcissist may even say, “I apologize for that,” but there is no depth to that apology and the behavior doesn’t change.
Related reading: 14 Red Flags in Women – Here’s Your Checklist
At best a long-term relationship with a narcissist is rocky and almost loveless. At worst, it is fraught with hostility, anger, resentment, and a lack of control over one’s own life. And if the narcissist comes to realize that they are losing control, they may seek side relationships where their future faking can continue, and they get the adoration they need.
And they will completely lose interest in the long-term partner, sticking around only because it happens to be convenient and/or somewhat secure.
Not everyone can spot future faking – it’s tough due to infatuation and trust that the person is sincere in their promises and declarations of lasting love and other words you so want to hear. So, here are the most common signs that you are with a future faker.
By the second date, the future faker is professing their love for you. There can be such a thing as “love at first sight,” but it is rare. It makes great rom-com movie plots. Real love builds over time, as two people get to know one another and experience all of each other’s great and not-so-great qualities. Future faking is like going down the highway at 150 miles an hour.
A big part of future faking by a narcissist involves not just the promises but the stated “need” to have you all to themselves. At first, this is quite flattering. When love is new, there is a period of time when you two want to spend huge amounts of time together. But in the reality of normal relationships, this is a phase that subsides as partners settle into their lives together. They return to their other activities and interests and actually include their friends and members of their families in their social lives.
The future faker does not get over this need to have you exclusively and to control all aspects of your life. They see the other person as an adoring “subject” who should live only to serve their wants and needs.
Future faking involves talk of how the narcissist has never been in this kind of magical relationship before, and that it was “just in the stars” that you two found each other. They are creating a type of “bubble” that is built on fantasy, and you are drawn into a sense of bliss. Over time, the fairy tale will crack, leaving you can in the dust, picking up the pieces of your heart from the broken relationship and accepting the reality of the future faking it was.
If you two were to get into an argument, would they take responsibility for their actions and apologize? A narcissist will put the blame on you. “They see things with black and white thinking or a right versus wrong way,” said Dr. Kushnick. “If they tend to blame the world or other people for their problems, consider that you’re on a path to a painful ending.”
On the shallower end of the narcissism spectrum, a narcissist might simply be self-centered and egotistical, and a commitment to therapy can help. But for someone who has a narcissistic personality disorder, the road is much tougher.
“I like to say that there aren’t that many former narcissists. It’s hard work to bring them to a place to see how their actions impact people and get them to show empathy for the emotional world of another person.”
If you face a partner who fakes future for you, the first step is to know what it is and be able to identify it, or recognize these signs of future faking. It’s a good idea to leave the relationship if your partner makes you feel the ramifications, including a loss of happiness and joy or depression.
It may cause pain and anger. But it’s better to cut things off sooner rather than later.